The Jakarta Post
Indonesia has stressed the importance of a concerted effort from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries to “jump-start” economic activity in the region once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
In the Extraordinary Senior Officials Meeting on Wednesday, chaired by Malaysia and held online for the first time ever, leaders of the 21 APEC member countries emphasized the value of collaboration, cooperation and a united vision in the collective battle against COVID-19.
The meeting was a follow-up to directives of APEC trade ministers outlined in the Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Statement on COVID-19.
“The unity of vision, synergy and collaboration is key to mitigating the impact posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and a start to the economic recovery in the region,” Desra Percaya, a senior official from the Foreign Ministry who headed the Indonesian delegation in the meeting, said in a statement issued by the ministry.
According to the statement, APEC trade ministers had given the senior officials the mandate to develop a “coordinated approach” that was expected to facilitate the process of knowledge-sharing and best-practices formulation on the handling of COVID-19.
APEC also discussed cooperation for the joint procurement of essential goods, such as medical equipment and medicine, to ensure affordable health care.
Indonesia urged APEC to identify realistic efforts for all members – be it developed or developing countries.
“The implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, transparency on policy implementation and reinforcement of the logistical system are concrete initiatives APEC could take. These would smoothen the trade flow in the Asia Pacific region during the pandemic,” Desra said during the meeting.
Strengthening trade facilitation and lowering non-tariff barriers could also help the private sector, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), by cushioning the impact of COVID-19. Such efforts are deemed effective for economic recovery, as 40 to 60 percent of the gross domestic product of APEC members came from SMEs, Desra added.
Indonesia is also preparing a new approach to keep the economic wheels running amid the pandemic by planning to roll out a set of guidelines the government calls the “new normal”.
In particular, Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto has issued new health protocols for employers to usher in the so-called “new normal” even as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country continues to rise.
In a ministerial decree issued on Saturday, Terawan detailed how offices and manufacturers should operate under the large-scale social restrictions (PSBB).
The ministerial decree, among other things, requires company managers to create task forces to curb the spread of the disease. They should also ensure cleanliness and hygiene at the workplace and increase the number of handwashing facilities.